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Full text of "Glorying in tribulation: a brief memoir of Hannah Carson"

GLORYING 



TRIBULATION: 



A BRIEF MEMOIR OF HANNAH CARSON, 



FOR THIRTEEN YEARS DEPRIVED OF THE 
USE OF ALL HER LIMBS. 



" I can say, I feel resigned to ease or pain, 
because I know in whose hands I am." 

Hannah Carson. 



PHILADELPHIA : 
PROTESTANT EPISCOPAL BOOK SOCIETY, 

1224 CHESTNUT STREET. 
1864. 



Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1864, by the 

PROTESTANT EPISCOPAL BOOK SOCIETY, 

in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States for 
the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. 



J. FAG AX & SOX, STEREO TYPERS, PHILADELPHIA. 



PREFACE. 



In an age like the present, when books 
without number are published, even of 
a professedly religious character, it was 
not without some hesitancy that the ac- 
companying little volume was issued. 

But the remarkably clear perception 
of gospel truth, especially the grand fun- 
damental doctrine of Justification hy Faith, 
as exhibited in the character of this de- 
parted Christian, induced the belief that 
a brief memoir would be both acceptable 
and instructive. 

In the case of Hannah Carson, Ave 

have ample evidence of the power of 

Divine Grace to sustain the child of God 

under the severest and sharpest trials. 

(iii) 



iv 



PREFACE. 



This enabled lier to believe that He in 
whose hands she thus wholly committed 
herself, was doing all things well. 

It must be borne in mind, that her 
bodily affliction extended through a 
series of seventeen years, and increased 
rather than diminished, and if we add to 
this, her total deprivation of the means 
of obtaining a livelihood, we cannot fail 
to perceive how greatly her faith was 
tried in matters both temporal and 
spiritual. 

How strikingly she realized the fulfil- 
ment of God's promises, will appear in 
the following pages, and with the hope 
that her example may strengthen the 
faith of all believers, especially the af- 
flicted, her memoir is submitted to the 
public. 

Philadelphia, May 12, 1864. 



GLORYING IN TRIBULATION. 



Hannah Thanks was born of respect- 
able colored parentage, in Chambersburg, 
Pennsylvania, April 1st, 1808. But few 
particulars of her early life .can now be 
gathered ; we learn, however, that her 
parents belonged to the Methodist 
Church, and, like many other devoted 
followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, she 
was indebted to a pious mother for her 
first serious impressions. 

She was early taught the duty and 
privilege of prayer, as well as the atten- 
tive perusal of the sacred Scriptures, 
and the good seed thus sown in childhood 
by maternal love, in God's own appointed 

1* (5) 



6 GLORYING IN TRIBULATION. 



time, developed those Christian graces 
for which she afterwards became so 
justly distinguished. The Sunday- 
school in her native town also lent its 
aid in this holy work, as she was a re- 
gular attendant upon its services. 

At the age of eighteen, Providence 
deprived her of her excellent mother, and 
confided to her the care of six younger 
sisters whom she conscientiously endea- 
vored to train in the paths of virtue. 
Her disposition at this period was mild 
and retiring, caring little for company, 
and wholly devoted to the responsibili- 
ties devolving upon her. 

In 1835 she was married to a respect- 
able man of her color, named Robert 
Carson. As already stated, she had 
been piously instructed, but had not yet 
experienced that change of heart which 
is wrought by the application of the 



GLORYING 



IX TRIBULATION. 



7 



cleansing blood of a dying Saviour. She, 
however, attended divine service in the 
colored Bethel church in Sixth Street, 
below Pine, in this city, and, during a 
revival, was awakened to a sense of her 
lost condition by nature. 

For a while she was reluctant to ac- 
knowledge the claims of the gospel, but, 
to use her own language, — "I saw so 
many pressing forward, I'll press for- 
ward too." But a barrier of no ordinary 
nature now presented itself. Her hus- 
band was violently opposed to her mak- 
ing a profession of religion, and thwarted 
her in every possible manner; his lan- 
guage became rude and boisterous, and 
his manners harsh and overbearing. 

Already, however, she had heard that 
brief but imperative command, "Follow 
me," and she dared not disobey. Her 
mind was decided, and, shortly after- 



8 GLORYING IN TRIBULATION. 

wards, she was received into full mem- 
bership with the above-named church, 
and so continued the rest of her life. 
The change, immediately following this 
step, was so marked as to leave no doubt 
whatever of her thorough conversion, 
and it was not long before her husband 
had abundant reason to thank her for 
so doing. 

No sooner had she experienced the 
joy and peace in believing, than she 
remembered another emphatic declara- 
tion, " Go home to thy friends, and tell 
them how great things the Lord hath 
done for thee." The first whom she ap- 
proached with the glad tidings of salva- 
tion, was the husband, who had done all 
in his power to prevent her from receiv- 
ing them herself. But she saw his danger, 
and lost no time in urging him to make 



GLORYING IN TRIBULATION. 9 

his calling and election sure. To this 
end, she not only read to him the Word 
of God, but prayed urith him and for 
him. Nor did she labor in vain ; the 
heavenly seed took root, and the names 
of both husband and wife were written 
with the blood of Jesus on the pages of 
the Book of Life. 

Two years and a half later, in March 
1841, her husband died; 'his end was 
happy and triumphant. She was now 
left a widow, with one son, (two children 
having previously died in infancy,) and 
thrown upon her own exertions for her 
maintenance. Her promptness, obliging 
disposition, and pleasing manners soon 
procured kind friends, who employed her 
in house cleaning, whitewashing, and 
other similar duties. Nor was she ever at a 
loss for employment. Those who engaged 



10 GLORYING I N| TRIBULATION. 

her one season, always sought her for 
another, and thus she was enabled to 
support herself and child quite comfort- 
ably. In this manner six years passed 
quietly away, unmarked by any stirring 
incident, and, as far as human eye could 
discern, she bid fair to pass the rest of 
her life in this manner, but Providence 
ordered otherwise. 

Thus far we fail to discover anything 
remarkable in her history. Her case 
was similar to that of thousands around 
her. Childhood, youth, married life, — 
her conversion and widowhood, pass be- 
fore us. But another phase now gradu- 
ally appears, presenting her in a totally 
different light, increasing in wonder and 
interest as seventeen long years of the 
most intense bodily suffering bear her 



GLORYING IN JRIBULATION. 11 

slowly along, each in, their turn develop- 
ing some hidden Christian grace and 
virtue, and fully realizing the assertion 
of the holy Scripture, " As thy clays, so 
shall' thy strength be." 

Had Hannah Carson been permitted 
at this period to draw aside the curtain 
of futurity, and see herself totally de- 
prived of the use of all her limbs, and 
consequently the means of obtaining a 
livelihood, — entirely dependent upon the 
bounty of kind friends, whom the Lord 
so remarkably provided, — to know her 
inability even to raise her hands to wipe 
away the tears that so often trickled 
down her wasted cheeks, — to be placed 
in any position, whether in bed or out of 
it, without being able to change it, — to 
suffer also from a complication of diseases, 
— to see her old friends, once vigorous 
and robust, precede her to the grave, — 



12 GLORYING IN TRIBULATION. 

she might well query, "How long, 
Lord !" and "How can these things be?" 

Bat our answer is to be found in her 
favorite texts, the truth of which she 
had abundantly proved in her own won- 
derful experience, " Shall not the Judge 
of all the earth do right?" and, "My 
times are in thy hand !" 

In the spring of 1847, she had been 
cleaning the cellar of a house in this city, 
and, on returning home in the evening, 
complained of a pain and stiffness in one 
of the joints of her right thumb, which 
gradually extended along the arm to the 
shoulder. She paid little attention to it, 
thinking it was merely the effect of an 
ordinary cold, and pursued her labors as 
usual. Instead of diminishing, however, 
her complaint increased, crossing the 
chest, and investing both the left arm 
and shoulder. It proved to be acute in- 



GLORYING IN TRIBULATION. 13 



flammatory rhewnaiism, for which various 
remedies were applied, without producing 
any permanent relief. Her joints gra- 
dually became completely stiffened, and 
by degrees she was compelled to forego 
her accustomed occupations, confining 
herself almost entirely within doors. 

About two years were spent in this 
crippled condition. We have said that 
both her arms and chest were affected ; 
her body was the next to suffer ; then 
her lower limbs were attacked. She 
could now only make her way along by 
using crutches. When tired of sitting, 
her sister would stand her in a corner, 
her back supported by the walls, and 
her frame by crutches. But so helpless 
did she become, that she was unable to 
change even this position without assists 
ance; finally, she lost entirely the power 
of locomotion, and became confined to her 

2 



14 GLORYING IN TRIBULATION. 

bed. It must not be supposed that her 
disease spread itself over her system 
within a short period. On the contrary, 
it was fully four years from the time she 
was taken, until reduced to entire help- 
lessness. Our narrative is now brought 
down to 1851, and it is from this date 
to her death, — a period of thirteen years, 
to which we would call particular atten- 
tion. Her life of faith, which so strongly 
marked her subsequent career, now be- 
gins to be developed. 

One of her most valued friends says, 
— u I first knew Hannah Carson ten 
years ago, and from the impressions 
then received, up to my last visit, not 
long before her death, I can trace a 
wonderful growth in grace — through 
many trials, patience had its perfect 
work at last. A striking incident came 
under my observation in the winter of 



GLORYING IN TRIBULATION. 15 

1855. I had arranged with a friend to 
visit her on a certain day, but other 
engagements led to a postponement of 
several days. Finally, we were success- 
ful, and found Hannah sitting, as usual, 
calm and placid, but noticed an unusual 
kindling in her bright eyes as we laid 
upon her table the various packages 
from our well filled baskets, and gave 
into her hands the money intrusted to 
our care by some of her thoughtful 
friends. Still, she thanked us very 
quietly, and said only that it was a kind 
Lord who put it into our kind hearts to 
come and see such a poor creature as 
she was. Calling the little girl who 
then waited on her, she told her to put 
on the mush to cook for their tea, and 
then come to her. She seemed strangely 
astonished at something, and was soon 
at her side again. ' Now, Hannah, bring 



16 GLORYING IN TRIBULATION. 

the bag, and untie it in my lap.' The 
child drew out of a table drawer a long, 
narrow bag — her only purse — untied the 
string, and poured out the contents — 
the half of a half cent piece. 6 There/ 
said Hannah, 6 that is all I had, and I 
wanted you all to see how the Lord 
cares for his children. I drank my last 
tea this morning, and borrowed a little 
sugar from my sister to put in it. My 
last coal is on the stove, and the meal 
that is boiling there for mush is the only 
food I have left. But I knew the Lord 
would not forsake me. I knew he would 
send some one ; and last night I dreamed 
I saAv you coining. But the child couldn't 
have faith as I had, and so she said this 
morning. — ' Well, Aunt Hannah, if the 
Lord doesn't send some one pretty quick, 
well all starve! And now, my child, you 
see what the Lord has sent us.' " 



GLORYING IN TRIBULATION. 17 

On another occasion, shortly after she 
became entirely helpless, her faith was 
tried in a similar manner. It was in 
winter, and she had a little boy to wait 
upon her. He could do but little, how- 
ever, for the simple reason that there 
was nothing to do with, — she had nei- 
ther food or money : they both became 
greatly exhausted, and her young at- 
tendant asked repeatedly, but vainly, 
for nourishment. Hannah replied, " My 
child, the Lord will send it." A day and 
night passed over without the needed 
relief ; at length, a knock was heard at 
the door, and a member of the Society 
of Friends entered, and said he had felt 
an impression on his mind that he must 
come, and hand her a sum of money. 
Thus she was again provided for. 

In 1858 she removed from her re- 
sidence in Bush Row, Kensington, to 
2* 



18 GLORYING IN TRIBULATION. 

Ivy Street, near Tenth and Lombard, 
where she remained until her death. 
She was brought thither in a furniture 
car, sitting in her chair, an object of 
charity and pity, but withal possessing 
faith. This change was beneficial in 
every respect. Her room, though small, 
was airy, comfortable, and cheerful ; the 
street quiet and orderly ; and from this 
time her friends increased, who never 
failed to provide for all her wants. Under 
these genial influences, aided primarily 
by Divine grace, her character became 
more and more beautifully developed. To 
use the language of one of her friends, — 
" Her mind seemed to expand with the 
soul. There was a growing refinement 
of manners, a nice sense of social pro- 
prieties, and her conversation grew richer 
in thought and even in expression." 
Her abode now became the resort of 



GLORYING IN TRIBULATION. 19 



nearly all evangelical denominations, 
always welcomed, who beheld, with 
astonishment, an unlearned mulatto wo- 
man discoursing on Divine things with 
a spirituality and unction that the pulpit 
well might emulate. 

They saw her suffering from a disease 
that affected all her limbs, entirely sus- 
pending • their functions, and often pro- 
ducing the most excruciating pain, but 
failing to cause a murmur or repining 
thought. They saw her sustained by a 
faith regarding temporal matters, which 
taught her to look for, and receive her 
daily bread by Providences almost as 
direct as when Elijah was fed by ravens, 
— and by a faith regarding spiritual 
matters, which enabled her to declare 
that, after the closest scrutiny, she saw 
naught but love inscribed upon her 
heaviest crosses and darkest dispensa- 



20 GLORYING IN TRIBULATION. 

tions. They saw one who had thoroughly 
learned that most difficult lesson in the 
believer's discipline, — total, entire sub- 
mission to the will of God in every parti- 
cular; and to deem it her highest privi- 
lege to lay the lowest at His feet, and 
there serve Him in protracted suffering. 

Her room was kept scrupulously neat 
and clean, and struck every visitor with 
its appearance. There was no shabby 
furniture, no ragged carpet, no carelessly- 
made bed, — nothing out of place. If in 
bed when any one came to see her, she 
would request her attendant, a little 
colored girl, to raise her by means of a 
girth fastened round her waist, and by 
which she was elevated to a sitting pos- 
ture ; her limbs were then slowly drawn 
around, until they reached the floor; 
her back was then propped with pillows, 
and her arms stretched out, resting on 



GLORYING IN TRIBULATION. 21 



her lap, the palms inwardly. When 
questioned about the immovable position 
of her hands, her common reply was, — 
"I have not seen the palms of my hands 
for several years!" When inclined to 
read, a book was placed under her hands 
in order to keep down the pages ; these, 
however, she could not turn, and was 
obliged to receive assistance. In warm 
weather, the flies troubled her exceed- 
ingly, but she was unable to brush them 
away ; this, too, had to be done by an- 
other. When from any cause, her tears 
flowed, she was unable to resist their 
progress ; this devolved upon other hands 
than her own. From the time her 
arms became perfectly stiffened to her 
dying day, — thirteen long years, — she 
had to be fed like a little child. Yet, in 
all these trying, wearisome, painful posi- 
tions, she generally greeted her friends 



22 GLORYING IN TRIBULATION. 

with a sweet, pensive smile, that seemed 
to borrow its radiance from the face of 
the Saviour she so dearly loved, and 
whose spirit had been so abundantly 
bestowed upon her. 

All who visited her, even the most 
experienced Christians, could testify 
how greatly her example of patient suf- 
fering had benefitted them, and many 
found a congeniality of thought and 
feeling little expected from one occupy- 
ing her humble position. She thus ex- 
pressed herself to one of her most inti- 
mate friends : — 

" I would like to tell thee*," said she, 
"how it seems to me." (This was in 
reference to praying one for another.) 
" Some people might laugh at me, but I 

* In conversing with any member of the So- 
ciety of Friends, she always used the singular 
number. 



GLORYING IN TRIBULATION. 23 



think thee will understand me. I seem 
to see a list of friends come close to me, 
— oh ! close enough to read without 
spectacles. And the letters are like 
printed letters in a book ; sometimes in 
silver and sometimes in gold — and I see 
the names one after another — and as I 
read each one, I pray — ' Oh, Lord, bless 
this dear friend/ and so on." 

The question was then asked, " What 
is the difference between the letters of 
silver and gold V 

" Well," she answered, " when they 
are in gold I can seem to ask a great deal 
more." 

" Do the names come always in the 
same order ?" 

" No — but I notice one thing ; — my 
oldest friends, like thee and dear Miss 
Anna N******** that usedto come so 



24 GLORYING IN TRIBULATION. 

far to see me, are always near the top of 
the list. And it seems to me sometimes 
in this way, when I pray, as if the Lord 
put a blank check in my hand, already 
signed, and told me I might fill it up 
with anything I wished." 

Whilst receiving a visit from some 
Christian friends, who had engaged in 
solemn prayer, she said, "while you 
have been with me, the love of Christ 
has kindled like a fire in all my bones, 
and has driven out all the j>ain and 
anguish, till I am full of joy!' 

Aside from her bodily infirmities, she 
had much to try her in the conduct of 
those on whom she depended for help in 
domestic matters. During her long sick- 
ness, she employed several half-grown 
colored girls, one of whom particularly 
took an almost fiendish pleasure in tor- 



GLORYING IN TRIBULATION. 25 

meriting her. She would laugh at her 
helpless situation, flatly refuse to perform 
her work, use the most violent personal 
language, and even refuse to give her 
mistress the food that a kind charity so 
often placed on her table. Others, again, 
were inefficient and lazy, and took no 
interest whatever in her condition. 

She often rebuked them before visitors 
for their conduct, and sometimes with 
more severity than the circumstance re- 
quired. As her general demeanor was 
so gentle and subdued, her reproofs 
seemed occasionally to fall upon the ear 
with a harshness and quickness that sur- 
prised those who heard them. Whilst 
she was a remarkable instance of the 
sanctifying power of the grace of God, 
she had, nevertheless, her failings, and 
the one just alluded to, we believe, was 

3 



26 GLORYING IN TRIBULATION. 

the most prominent. This, however, was 
only a passing cloud, and shows the 
weakness of our nature, even when most 
highly favored. 

To a visitor who remarked that she 
had never lacked any needful thing since 
she became helpless, she replied : 

" How could I, with so rich a Father ! 
I am astonished to see how He sometimes 
sends me little things I have been think- 
ing of, when I don't really need them." 

She was very fond of ice-creams and 
other delicacies, but was not known to 
ask for them. Often, when brought to 
her, she would say, " This is just what 
I want, and the Lord has sent it." 
Generally, in regard to the necessaries 
of life, it was only by repeated inquiries, 
that her friends could ascertain her 
wants. She choose rather to await, than 
solicit them. 



GLORYING IN TRIBULATION. 27 

On one occasion, her supply of coal 
gave out, and she was compelled to pur- 
chase three cents worth. In this strait, 
the tempter plied her with doubts and 
fears for a season, and whilst conversing 
with a lady at her bedside about her 
former experience, how that she had 
always been provided for in ways often 
the least expected, a cart stopped at her 
door, and left her a generous quantity. 

To one who had several times replen- 
ished her scanty stock of tea, sugar, &c, 
she exclaimed, " You have been sent by 
the Lord, for I was out of these things, 
and have been praying for them this 
very d^y." 

One kind friend sent her Sunday din- 
ner regularly for several years. She was 
peculiarly grateful for this kindness. To 
use her own words, — " I have no trouble 



28 GLORYING IN TRIBULATION. 

in having it prepared, and so the quiet 
of the Sabbath is not disturbed." 

In this manner, her temporal wants 
were supplied during all the long period 
of her helplessness. Well might she say, 
as she did to a visitor — " I can testify 
that the Lord has verified all His 
promises." 

When in difficulties of any kind, she 
invariably had recourse to prayer, in 
which her faith was very strong, and 
deliverance was always granted. 

One night when very much oppressed 
in consequence of her room being filled 
with smoke from the stove, she prayed 
fervently for relief, being, of course, ut- 
terly unable to help herself. Her prayer 
was answered by her brother coming 
down into the room, and rendering the 
needed assistance. He had risen for the 



GLORYING- IN TRIBULATION. 29 



day, thinking it was much later than it 
really was. 

If any one is inclined to cavil at these 
incidents, or think her conduct hypo- 
critical, let such remember her entirely 
helpless condition, which prevented her 
making any personal exertion, however 
greatly disposed she might have been. 

Her total resignation to the will of 
God was a marked feature in her charac- 
ter, particularly after becoming entirely 
helpless. 

She once remarked, " When I was first 
taken, and was obliged to use crutches, 
I thought it a heavy trial ; and now, 
nearly all my teeth are gone, save three 
or four, but I'm thankful I have even 
these, and can bear my helplessness bet- 
ter now than when I was able to go about 
on crutches. No human being knows 
how I suffer; God Almighty alone 

3* 



30 GLORYING IN TRIBULATION. 

knows." It was in the same spirit, when 
allusion was made to the inability to use 
her limbs, that she said, "lam thankful 
lean move my eye*" 

To an intimate friend she said, " Some- 
times I waken in the night, and long to be 
turned over, and feel as if I could not 
be another moment in that position; 
perhaps my throat is dry and parched 
at the same time ; I call and call, but the 
little girl sleeps heavy and don't hear me. 
Well, I just put up a prayer to Jesus, 
and He takes away all the parching thirst, 
and I don't want to be turned over." 

Tn the warm, summer months, her pa- 
tience was tried to the utmost. The 
heat greatly enervated her, and as she 
was unable leave her room, she was de- 
nied a change of air. Besides this, the 
flies and mosquitoes annoyed her unmo- 
lested, unless dispersed by her attendant, 



GLORYING IN TRIBULATION. 31 



who was often occupied with other duties; 
and to add still to her pains and discom- 
forts, her hip bones had worked through, 
- making her condition wretched in the 
extreme. Yet in this crucible, the Work 
of refining went bravely on, consuming 
the dross, and developing the gold in 
which the image of her Divine Master ap- 
peared brighter and brighter every day. 
She could say, with Madame Guyon — 

"A little bird I am, 

Shut from the fields of air ; 
And *in my cage I sit and sing 

To Him who placed me there ; 
Well pleased a prisoner to be, 
Because, my God, it pleases Thee. 

" ! it is good to soar 

These bolts and bars above, 
To Him whose purposes I adore — 

Whose Providence I love ; 
'And in Thy mighty will to find, 
The joy and freedom of the mind." 



32 GLORYING IN TRIBULATION. 

It was in this spirit that she once said 
— " Some people say they are contented ; 
but they want something more. As for 
me, I can say I am satisfied, satisfied, 
satisfied in my very bones." 

Although called to suffer to an almost 
incredible extent, she was remarkably 
emphatic in her declarations that she 
attached no merit whatever to her suf- 
ferings, or to any thing pertaining to 
herself. Alone on Jesus Christ and Him 
crucified, she rested her hopes of salva- 
tion. The declarations of holy Scrip- 
ture, as well as the experience of her 
own heart, had long ago convinced her 
of her lost and helpless state, and the 
need of a Saviour, through whose cleans- 
ing blood she could obtain pardon. With 
her, Christ was all in all — the author as 
well as the finisher of her faith. Her 
own testimony on this glorious and all- 



GLORYING IN TRIBULATION. 33 

important theme, is sufficiently conclu- 
sive. It comes too, with peculiar force, 
as it was delivered only eight days be- 
fore her death ; — a summing up, as it 
were, of her own rich, deep, spiritual 
experience, sown in tears and anguish, 
and reaped in joy : 

" I was thinking yesterday that I have 
everything to hope for, and nothing to 
fear. Not this world, nor ten thousand 
worlds, would I exchange for my hope 
in Christ. I envy no soul living. I feel 
quite satisfied with what God has be- 
stowed upon me. God is my witness 
that this is true. He has clone so much 
for me — more than I will be able to tell 
— in different ways ; remarkable answers 
to prayer. He knew before ever I asked. 
He knew ichat I would ask ; and when I 
asked, He was ready to answer my 
weak requests. I was thinking just now 



34 GLORYING IN TRIBULATION. 

how could any one expect to see God 
without Christ. 

" Oh ! I often feel as if I could only 
open my arms and gather in all the 
world to the feet of Jesus, and tell them 
what He has done for us ! His goodness 
and mercy ; so long forbearing. Some- 
times I feel young in my happiness. It 
is not (of) myself — it's all of grace, a 
free gift. I feel that I have enough to 
do in thanking God for the many friends 
He has raised up for me. Oh ! what a 
precious Saviour ! He could have taken 
me away long since ; but he chooses to 
keep me here ; it's all right ; whatever 
He does is all right. I can say, I feel 
resigned to ease or pain, because I know 
in whose hands I am. Sometimes when 
I am in pain and distress, I can pour out 
my complaints to God, and talk to Him, 
and He will change my mind, as none 



GLORYING IN TRIBULATION. 35 

but God can, from the things of earth to 
Heaven, and make me forget this poor 
body, and thus the hours slip by." 

Like many others chosen in the fur- 
nace of affliction, her spiritual elevations 
bore a corresponding ratio to her physical 
depressions. Her mind was drawn out 
in the contemplation of Divine things, 
lifted above those of time and sense, and 
hovering, as it were, like a captive bird, 
eager for its upward flight. " I long to 
go," said she, " not to escape pain, suffer- 
ing, or sorrow, but to enjoy the presence 
of my Saviour." 

She was frequently unable to lie in 
bed during the night, and her only resort 
was a sitting posture. The room was 
totally darkened, as her scanty funds 
did not allow the use of candles ; yet 
this was no hardship. In a silence so 
profound that — to use her own words — 



36 GLORYING IN TRIBULATION. 

she could "hear a pin drop/' and shut in 
from all mortal vision, she became " al- 
most rapturous with Heaven in view." 

When enabled to sleep, she was some- 
times awakened by the striking of a very 
loud clock on her mantel. " But/' — we 
quote her own language, — " I sleep very 
little; then, again, I don't hear it for 
hours, and I wonder if it has stopped. 
I have such communion with my Saviour, 
— I am so happy, — I forget my poor suf- 
fering body altogether." 

A friend asked, " What particular 
thought is the happy one, on such oc- 
casions ?" 

"Oh, my prospects, my prospects!* 

* It was in a similar frame of mind that the 
sainted Payson wrote to his sister, only a few 
weeks before his death : 

" Were I," he says, "to adopt the figurative 
language of Bunyan, I might date this letter 



GLORYING IN TKIBULATION. 37 

Oh, the nights are too short, too ' short ! 
and I have to pray for patience when 
daytime comes !" 

Her longings for departure became so 
intense, that she was obliged to pray for 
submission to patiently wait God's own 
time. This was particularly the case 
when once taken very ill, and she her- 
self apprehended her end was near. On 
being assured that she was recovering, 
she felt much disappointed, but soon be- 
came resigned to a longer probation. 

from the land of Beulah, of which I have been 
for some weeks a happy inhabitant. The celes- 
tial city is full in my view. Its glories beam 
upon me, its breezes fan me, its odors are wafted 
to me, its sounds strike upon my ears, and its 
spirit is breathed into my heart. Nothing sepa- 
rates me from it but the river of death, which 
now appears but as an insignificant rill, that 
may be crossed at a single step, whenever God 
shall give permission." (See Memoir, p. 462.) 
4 



38 GLORYING IN TRIBULATION. 

♦ 

Whilst disease had completely wrecked 
her system, her mind, nevertheless, con- 
tinued fresh and vigorous. From that 
Great unfailing W ell of water, she was 
continually refreshed. Its waters were 
sweet to her taste, and health to her 
soul. This is confirmed by her own 
language, — 

" Every morning I have plenty to do ; 
plenty of new work ; new thoughts about 
Heaven. I have a happy thought one 
day, and the next day it widens out; 
every day I have fresh prospects, fresh 
hopes, fresh views of Heaven. No mat- 
ter how afflicted I am ; no ability to eat 
or sleep ; still I have this peace, this 
comfort, that seems to subdue my bodily 
affliction all to silence. If every hair on 
my head were a tongue, I would employ 
them all in praising Almighty God." 

Another marked characteristic was 



GLORYING IN TRIBULATION. 39 

her firm attachment and veneration for 
the Word of God. With spectacles on, 
and the Bible in her lap, kept open by 
the weight of her crippled hands, she 
would read and read, whilst her young 
attendant beside her slowly turned its 
sacred pages. When visited by those with 
whom she was intimately acquainted, 
they could perform no greater favor 
than comply with her request, modestly 
spoken, " Will you read me a chapter ?" 

In speaking of her sufferings to one 
who had been reading to her, she said, 
" Had it not been for that blessed volume 
you hold in your hands, I should have 
given out long ago ; but all I have to do 
when I feel so (badly), is to turn to its 
promises, and I feel comfortable. When 
I read these, or when some one steps in, 
and reads for me, I feel relieved of a 
great burden." 



40 GLORYING IN TRIBULATION. 

We now approach a subject which 
many would deem visionary, and others 
again almost disbelieve. There is no 
reason, however, to doubt its authen- 
ticity ; indeed, its parallel can occasion- 
ally be found in the biographies of those 
who, like Hannah Carson, have attained 
a high degree in spiritual exercises and 
perceptions. 

To those who are thus highly favored, 
it is eminently suggestive. It conveys 
a gracious sense of their acceptance and 
communion with God, and frequently an 
intimation that their earthly pilgrimage 
is nearly ended, just as the traveller, 
when, towards the close of a lengthened 
voyage, begins to experience balmy and 
odoriferous breezes, he knows that land 
is near, though not yet visible. 

We refer to an occasion when she 
seemed transported as it were, to the 



GLORYING IN TRIBULATION. 41 

presence of her Saviour, and " saw no 
man save Jesus only." This occurred 
about thirteen months before her death, 
and may be best stated in her own words : 
" I had such a vision. It would not 
be proper for me to describe the person 
of my Saviour as I then saw Him : so 
awfully grand and majestic; His eye 
filled the whole earth. I saw, I saw — I 
cannot tell any one what I saw, but it 
was a glimpse of His glory. Whilst in 
this state, I felt that my work and mis- 
sion was to serve and glorify God in pa- 
tient suffering.* I reviewed my past 

* She was much impressed with a visit from 
the Rev. Mr. B., an Episcopal clergyman of this 
city. On hearing her narrative of this " vision,'' 
in which she particularly alluded to her mission 
of glorifying God in suffering, he replied : " I do 
not doubt it. That is your mission ; and here, 
shut out from the world, and shut in with God, 
4* 



42 GLORYING IN TRIBULATION. 

life, and saw how he had led me through 
many, many years of suffering, and how 
in all my troubles He had ever cherished 
and protected me ; how when wanting 
some little delicacy, it came, almost at 
the time I desired it. Oh ! how all this 



you are much nearer Heaven, than any of us ; 
your Heaven has begun. It reminds me of an 
image in the sculptor's hand — it is partly finished, 
and so far beautiful, but not quite completed. 
We .know the artist will never leave his work, 
till he has given the last touch. So the Lord 
will never leave His work in you ; and after a 
few more touches, He will pronounce it finished, 
— a little more of the discipline of suffering, and 
then the gates will open, and you will enter 
right in." 

He then closed with fervent prayer. After 
his departure, says one who accompanied him, 
there was such a holy feeling, that Hannah did 
not allow the deep silence to be broken for some 
time. 



GLORYING IN TRIBULATION. 



43 



humbled me. I felt so little and so 
small."* She spoke these words with 

* It is recorded of that holy man, the Rev. 
John Flavel, that when on a journey, during his 
meditations, he had such ravishing tastes of 
heavenly joy, and such full assurance of his in- 
terest therein, that he utterly lost sight and 
sense of this world, and all its concerns, so that 
he knew not where he was. At last, perceiving 
himself fai y t, through a great loss of blood from 
his nose, ne alighted from his horse near a 
spring, where he washed and refreshed himself, 
earnestly desiring, that if it were the will of 
God, he might there leave the world. His 
strength reviving, he resumed his journey. He 
passed that night without any sleep, the joy of 
the Lord still overflowing him, so that he seemed 
an inhabitant of the other world. 

The Rev. William Tennent was similarly 
favored, and to so great an extent, that he was 
obliged fervently to pray, that God would with- 
draw Himself from him, or he would perish 
under a view of His ineffable glory. 



44 GLORYING IN TRIBULATION. 

much feeling and earnestness, as if con- 
scious in whose presence she seemed to 
have been, and then, in allusion to her 
severe suffering, closed by saying, " I 
have a heavy cross to bear, but God bears 
the heaviest end" 

When speaking of this incident, par- 
ticularly in regard to temporal matters, 
she said that not many days before she 
was so remarkably favored, she longed 
for some home-made bread, but had none. 
She did not wait long, however, for a 
few hours afterward, one of her friends 
kindly brought a supply. 

For the welfare of her son she felt 
great solicitude, and her prayers, like 
incense of old, ascended day and night 
for his conversion."* No longer beneath 



* In her portrait, she is represented with her 
son's likeness in her lap. She wished it placed 



GLORYING IN TRIBULATION. 45 

the paternal roof, his absence in the 
army occasioned her much anxious 
thought and sorrow. Though piously 
instructed, he seemed little disposed to 
listen to her counsels. Still her faith 
was strong, and she believed that He, 
who in years long gone, had answered 
her prayers for the conversion of her 
husband, would, in His own good time, 
enable her boy to say, " I will arise, and 
go to my Father." In conversation upon 
this subject with one of her friends, in 
October, 1859, allusion was made to the 
faith and earnest prayers of Monica, the 
mother of Augustine, whose eventful 
career had just been read to her. On 
hearing the narrative, she exclaimed, 
" Then surely there is hope for poor me? 



there, to use her own words, " because he was 
nearest her heart." 



46 GLORYING IN TRIBULATION. 

More than four years now passed away, 
and she yet saw no encouraging change 
in her son. " I have a work to do/' said 
she, "in praying for him;" and it was, 
indeed, faithfully performed through a 
prolonged period of trial and suffering. 
At last, however, she became greatly en- 
couraged, and thought the good work 
had commenced. His letters indicated 
a serious frame of mind, and spoke of 
her oft repeated prayers. Only eight 
days before her death she said : 

" I am so encouraged about my son to- 
day. I have had a letter from him, in 
which it is evident he is wrought upon 
by the Lord in answer to. prayer. I 
thought this morning as I sat here, that 
perhaps I have been left so long to see 
his heart turned to his Saviour before I 
die, I can hardly return thanks enough 
for his letter. Such a change from his 



GLORYING IN TRIBULATION. 47 

former way of writing ! I felt so un- 
worthy of His goodness, that He should 
thus favor me. His goodness ! oh ! His 
goodness to me. It is like an unbounded 
sea. From the crown of my head to the 
sole of my foot, I am not able to express 
it ; no, never here. The love of God — 
the goodness of God. I feel at times 
such unspeakable joy that I could not 
bear more and live. I often realize that 
I could not feel more of the power of 
God than I have." 

If these were her feelings on beholding 
the first glimmer of hope in her son, what 
will they be when they meet in glory ? 

We have now traced the career of Han- 
nah Carson through many, many years of 
excruciating suffering which experienced 
no abatement ; in fact, it only increased 
towards her close, and the reader might 
naturally ask, Can she linger much 



48 GLORYING IN TRIBULATION. 

longer ? Is not her race nearly fin- 
ished ? If, as she expressed it, she had 
" a work to do in praying for her son/' 
it would seem from the preceding state- 
ments, that she had nearly fulfilled it, 
and could exclaim, " Lord, now lettest 
thou thy servant depart in peace." As 
will be perceived, our narrative is brought 
down to the period of the arrival of her 
son's letter, about eight or ten days be- 
fore her death ; the few remaining pages 
will, therefore, be devoted to her closing 
hours. 

On the 7th of March, 1864, her suffer- 
ings became intense, the pains increasing 
every hour, and she thought the day of 
deliverance had at last arrived. In fact, 
the week previous, she had a presenti- 
ment of her approaching end, and, calmly, 
gave directions relative to some memen- 
toes for her friends. 



GLORYING IN TRIBULATION. 49 

As the day passed slowly by, she grew 
weaker and weaker. She survived the 
night, though it became evident to her sis- 
ter, that in its silent hours she commenced 
her solemn journey through that dark 
valley whose terrors she had long since 
ceased to fear, and whose gloomy paths 
terminated in the light of Heaven's por- 
tals. 

On the following morning she was 
much oppressed, and said to her sister, 
" Rachel, I do w^ant one day of easier 
breathing before I go, that I may send 
for some of my friends, and give them 
a parting present." But Providence 
ordered otherwise. She grew worse, 
and said, u TJw waters of Jordan are so 
still, so calm ; nothing to do, but step right 
aver, Jesus couldn't be any "nearer!' 

Her physician asked if she was in 
pain ? 
5 



50 GLORYING IN TRIBULATION. 

u Yes/' she replied, " arm mass of pain" 

She was asked what message she had 
for her absent, wandering son. 

" Give him/' said she, " my last and 
dying love." 

As she approached " the waters/' she 
longed for " some valiant Christian to 
see her over/' but no one was present, 
and she wished greatly for an interview 
with one of her intimate friends, for 
whom her sister proposed sending; even 
here Patience had her perfect work, as 
she replied, " wait a little." She now 
experienced one of those remarkable 
Providences, — like many others that 
occurred during her checkered career. — 
Harcfly had the name of this person 
been mentioned, before a knock was 
heard at the door, and the one she so 
ardently desired to see, was at her bed- 
side. This was at three o'clock, p.m. 



GLORYING IN TRIBULATION. 51 



" Oh !" she exclaimed, " I have been 
so anxious to see you, and here you are ; 
you have come in God's appointed timer 

Her friend had been sent with a little 
delicacy, and was totally ignorant of her 
situation, or that she even wished to see 
him. 

She was stretched upon her bed, in 
an agony of pain, unable to move a 
limb, her eyes turned imploringly up- 
ward, and groaning deeply. 

"Oh [" she said, "if I had to hunt a 
Saviour now, what would I do V 

" But/' her visitor replied, " he is very 
near you now, though you do not see 
him with the eye of flesh." 

" Yes, very near me" 

A portion of the forty-third chapter 
of Isaiah was then read, and particular 
allusion made to the second verse, — 
" When thou passest through the waters, 



52 GLORYING IN TRIBULATION. 

I will be with thee." Fervent prayer 
was also offered, in which she joined 
with much feeling. From these offices 
she derived much strength and comfort. 
When asked, if she was willing to de- 
part, she replied, — 

" Perfectly willing, }^et Thy will be 
done; Thy will be done," — repeating 
this last with great emphasis. 

Her voice was still strong, and she 
continued, " And now good-bye, if we 
should not meet again. Go on with 
your work, go on with your work !" — 
(alluding to Christian labors.) 

By this time her friend was obliged 
to- leave, but promised to call again. 
Another visit was accordingly made at 
eight o'clock, and she was found in bed 
as before. Weak as she was, she earn- 
estly requested her attendant to raise her 
to a sitting posture. She remained in this 



GLORYING IN TRIBULATION. 53 

position several minutes, but was rapidly 

sinking; her face was deathly pale, and 

her forehead suffused with perspiration. 

She seemed too far gone to enter into 

conversation without great effort, and it 

was deemed best to say nothing. Her 

friend rose to depart. " Good bye !" said 

she, "I feel very drowsy;" even then 

her eyes were closing. An hour and 

twenty minutes later, she requested to 

be turned on her side ; this was no sooner 

done, than she passed away without a 

struggle, quietly as a child falling asleep 

on its mother's bosom. Thus she closed 

a pilgrimage of remarkable trial and 

suffering, on Tuesday, March 8, 1864, 

aged nearly fifty-six years. 

Her funeral took place on the 11th 

instant. Her little room was crowded 

by her friends, both wliite and colored, 

who assembled to pay the last tribute 
5* 



54 GLORYING IN TRIBULATION. 

of respect to the memory of departed 
worth. Though differing in creed, they 
all rallied in the name of Him of whom 
it is declared, that, "in every nation, he 
that feareth Him and worketh righteous- 
ness, is accepted with him." A minister 
of the Society of Friends opened the 
exercises with an exhortation, and also 
led in prayer ; a layman of the Protestant 
Episcopal Church addressed the audience, 
and was followed by the pastor of the 
Methodist Bethel church. Wesley's fine 
hymn — 

" And am I bom to die 
To lay this body down, — " 

was sung with much feeling, after which 
her remains were interred in Lebanon 
cemetery, to await the archangel's 
trump on the resurrection morn, to rise 
in immortal health and vigor, and join 



GLORYING IN TRIBULATION. 55 

that mighty throng, " who came out of 
great tribulation, and have washed their 
robes, and made them white in the blood 
of the Lamb." 

Comment upon the character of Han- 
nah Carson seems almost needless. Her 
biography, whilst it speaks for itself, 
speaks tenfold more for that Saviour 
in whose blood she was washed, and in 
whom she alone trusted for salvation. — 
To those in affliction, whether allied to 
poverty or riches, it affords ample evi- 
dence of Christ's power to lighten the 
heaviest cross, and cheer the darkest 
hour. 

To those whose faith is weak in mat- 
ters temporal and spiritual, who look 
upon the future with misgivings and 
dread, it bids them dispel their fears, 
and cast their cares upon Him, whose 



56 GLORYING IN TRIBULATION. 

unfailing Providence ordereth all things 
both in Heaven and earth. 

To those who are in the enjoyment 
of health, and the full possession of their 
faculties, it urges them to appreciate 
these precious gifts, and consecrate 
them to the glory of God. 

To the impenitent, it assures them 
that by nature, however excellent their 
moral qualities, they already stand con- 
demned before God, as guilty sinners, 
and can only be saved by the interces- 
sion of the Lord Jesus Christ, w^hose 
spirit sanctifieth the heart, and whose 
"blood cleanseth from all sin." 



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